News & Politics

Religious Refusal Bills: The New Battleground for LGBTQ Rights

By now you’ve probably heard that Indiana passed Senate Bill 101, a Religious Refusal Bill (RRB) that grants individuals and business entities the right to deny service to LGBTQ customers, based on their religious beliefs.

Hetero Only

Welcome to Indiana

More bad news, queer folks and allies: Indiana is not an anomaly.

According to the ACLU, Senate Bill 101 is just one of 24 RRBs introduced in 15 states this year. Already Georgia’s RRB has passed in the senate and Arkansas’ has passed in the house.

These bills are “a backlash reaction to achieving marriage equality for same-sex couples,” says Jane Henegar, executive director of the ACLU of Indiana. These bills threaten to erode our hard-won rights and protections.

What will stem this rising tide of legislative hate?

Economic Impact:

If the fate of Arizona’s RRB, Senate Bill 1062, is any indication, public outcry can make a difference. Last year Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Senate Bill 1062 in response to strong opposition from businesses, both local and nationwide.

No doubt Georgia governor Nathan Deal and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson are watching the backlash Indiana is facing right now. Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and Apple CEO Tim Cook have spoken out against the bill. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff took action, cancelling the company’s events in Indiana. NCAA President Mark Emmert expressed concern over the bill’s impact on student athletes and employees during the Final Four games of the men’s basketball tournament to be held in Indiana next week. “Moving forward,” he said, “we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.” Similarly, Gen Con CEO Adrian Swartout will reconsider the location for his company’s annual conference, which has brought Indiana $50 million in revenue in previous years.

Meanwhile, Arkansas-based WalMart has issued a statement condemning that state’s RRB, “While HB1228 will not change how we treat our associates and operate our business, we feel this legislation is also counter to our core basic belief of respect for the individual and sends the wrong message about Arkansas, as well as the diverse environment which exists in the state.”

If the cultural pressure to treat all citizens equally fails to turn back these RRBs, the detrimental impact on states’ economies—from grassroots boycotts to major corporations’ refusals to do business in or with the states—might hold some sway.

Legal Battles:

According to the Associated Press, while Arkansas Governor Hutchinson “stopped short of saying whether he opposed” his state’s RRB, he expressed reservations about the bill, “I can see a great deal of litigation coming out of this, and so we want to have a better understanding of it.”

Similar to laws that banned same-sex marriage state-by-state, undoubtedly RRBs like Indiana’s Senate Bill 101 will end up in court. Organizations like ACLU and Lambda Legal are gearing up for the fight. Lambda Legal urges, “If you feel that you have been discriminated against based on your sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status, please go to lambdalegal.org/help.”

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2 Comments

  1. You know you’re headed in the wrong direction when even Walmart is speaking out about how fucked up and behind you are!

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